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The Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander by…
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The Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander

by Ekaterina Dimitrova

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So why this particular manuscript?

That's the inevitable question that comes up in reading this book. This is part of a series of volumes the British Library has released about some of the more important manuscripts in their collections. In some cases, the reason for the choice of subject matter is obvious -- the Lindisfarne Gospels, for instance, are simultaneously an important copy of the Vulgate Bible and an incredibly beautiful manuscript.

But this manuscript is much later, in a less important language for scholarship (the Vulgate is used to help reconstruct the original Greek New Testament; the Slavonic isn't), and while it has interesting illustrations, they aren't as beautiful as Lindisfarne. Nor is the manuscript unique; there are many, many Slavonic Bibles out there. It really seems strange to publish a book on this one when there were so many other books in the Library awaiting publicity.

Still, I found it quite interesting to see the "magic square" in this book, and the fascinating iconography of Tsar Ivan. It's an interesting book to have -- if you have enough background (e.g. know the history of the Slavonic version). This is not really covered in the book.

In summary, this is more a picture book for experts than a real introduction to the Slavonic Bible or eastern Christianity. Use it accordingly. ( )
  waltzmn | Nov 6, 2013 |
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